by ‘Gbenga Adeoba

(After Kechi Nomu’s Your Old Bones are Seeking Wooden Crosses)

At the waterside in Boyo, the 
rituals of movement intensify at dusk. 

The pull of tides reinvents the shore 
into a space for things intimate and lost. 

You could find trinket boxes or a girl’s 
plastic doll in that rubble. Baby shoes, too.

The tiny things are heavier—even songbirds.
I am thinking these tunes being telegraphed 

into the dark, fretting the waters, 
are a tribute to the lives of drowned men.  

I sit by the water, knowing how 
sounds could alter the shape of an expanse. 

The boys who walk the boundaries now,
in search of collectibles, bear on their bodies 

a history threaded to this river. 
One wades inward: water around his body; 

water, a different texture, in his eyes. 
He pulls two of his friends along,

past the quay where the barges 
and their fathers’ canoes used to lay. 

Here is water, he says.
Here is memory shifting in its form,

 bearing things heavy and lost. My father 
and yours, here now and gone like the tides.


‘Gbenga Adeoba is from Nigeria. “Here is Water” is the title poem of his chapbook included in APBF’s New-generation African Poets Series.



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